Women of all generations shared similar views about the serious challenges preventing their societies from achieving gender equality, according to a new global survey to mark International Women’s Day (IWD). In fact, more than two-thirds of women around the world are not very optimistic that gender equality can be achieved in the next five years, and more than 30 percent believe gender equality is impossible.
Women across all five countries included in the survey —the United States, United Kingdom, China, India and Brazil — were unified in their view that unlocking education for girls is key to achieving gender equality, along with accomplishing societal shifts in how girls and women are viewed. Nearly two thirds (63 percent) see gaining equality and inclusivity in the workplace as a vital first step. The 5,000 women surveyed included millennials, Gen X, boomers and senior groups. The research was conducted by Research Now and commissioned by Western Union, an official IWD sponsor.
Some of the key findings in the research include:
- 69% of women say girls need to be encouraged to speak up more to advocate for themselves, while 66% believe boys must be taught to listen, understand and respect more;
- More than 67% say society expects women to take on responsibilities that it does not expect men to take on;
- 78% feel that men and boys still believe they are superior to women;
- 45% identify social and cultural factors where girls are viewed as inferior to boys and not worth educating as a barrier to girls accessing a quality education;
- 62% say it is important to have educational programs that “teach girls diverse skills to be effective leaders and take risks”;
- 60% also feel that it is important to have school social programs that grow girls’ confidence/self-worth;
- Half of women want more lessons and textbooks to teach about the lives and accomplishments of women.
- 84% of women agree that breaking down the barriers to quality education for all girls can unlock their potential and develop women that will change the world.
“These results are sobering, and show that all of us – as business leaders, global citizens, and parents – have a long way to go to achieve gender equality,” said President and CEO Western Union Hikmet Ersek. “Western Union believes that every girl, everywhere, should have the chance to pursue her dreams and goals. That’s why we are a proud participant in International Women’s Day and we’re proud that 90 percent of the grants provided through the Western Union Foundation over the past 15 years have gone towards education programs.”
In honor of International Women’s Day, the Western Union Foundation announced the “WU Scholars Program,” a global scholarship program dedicated to the education and empowerment of students around the world, including even more women.
“Education is one of the most important investments we can make,” said Ersek. “It turns girls into leaders. It turns global citizens into economic drivers, who then continue to invest in education. It breaks down barriers to education and empowers a bolder generation of young women to achieve their true potential.”